For anyone that watched either of the two previous series of Black Mirror you’ll know that it’s been a twisted satirical commentary on modern day life that has already featured everything from dystopian futures and necromancy to pig love and obsessive mobile phone voyeurism. In 2014 Channel 4 announced that it would be following all of that up with a movie length Christmas special to give the Emmy Award-winning show an even bigger dark platform of inversion.
The feature length film aired on the 16th December 2014 in the run up to the Christmas period, giving us something other than present wrapping, turkey, stuffing and the annual quality street binge to meld our tiny little minds around. Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of Christmas, but it’s always good to get something completely different to watch during the Yuletide festivities, and the Black Mirror movie length Christmas Special had everything needed to fit the bill.
It has once again been created by the mind-bending imagination of Charlie Brooker, who masterminded the two previous batches of the show. In the promotion of the show it was described as a techno nightmare before Christmas, so if you haven’t managed to see it yet, you should expect something that resembles a cross between the work of Charles Dickens, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Simon Pegg and Fat Boy Slim, or something along those lines.
Talking about the Christmas Special, Charlie Brooker said, “I always enjoy a good ghost story at Christmas, and I’m a sucker for the Amicus’ compendium horror movies of the 70s. Our aim is to create the Black Mirror equivalent of that.” If that doesn’t equate to ghouls and horror, along with Brooker’s slanted commentary on our unease about modern day life then what does.
As with series one and two, the feature-length film has three stories, but unlike its predecessors they’ll be interwoven with the theme of Yuletide techno-paranoia running throughout them all as they collide in the darkly comic plot. It was touted as the most chilling and mind-bending outing for Black Mirror to-date and considering the material of previous installments that was a pretty bold claim, but one that they managed to live up to.
The three stories feature everything from a social media augmented reality devices and the ability to socially block people in real life to a digitally copied consciousness created just to control the settings on your smart home. Apart from the standard digital degeneration, the stories also deal with themes around social interaction, parenting rights, the ethics of the dating scene and the concept of self, so as well as being creepy tales, they also act as clever critiques of modern day life, something that has run throughout the show’s history.
It starred John Hamm (Mad Men, Minions) in all three mini stories, making up the framework for the 90 minute special. Oona Chaplin (Game Of Thrones) and Rafe Spall (I Give It A Year) were also included in the guest cast along with Rasmus Hardiker (Your Highness), Janet Montgomery (Black Swan), Natalia Tena (Game Of Thrones) and Robin Weaver (The Inbetweeners Movie)
For anyone not up to speed on the show, it started out with Black Mirror Series 1, which first aired on Channel 4 back in 2011, featuring three one hour stories written by Brooker, his wife Konnie Huq and Peep Show’s Jesse Armstrong. It was followed up in 2013 with Black Mirror Series 2, which saw the show build out its techno-phobia credentials with episodes looking at the widespread nature of instant video capture on mobile phones and questions about the morality equation of new technology, alluding to the dictum just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.